Written Responses to Questions Submitted by Hurriyet of Turkey
U.S. Military Assistance for Turkey
Q. During your first term, administration officials emphasized in congressional hearings time after time that military aid to Turkey is insufficient to modernize her ancient armed forces. Two questions: Do you think Turkey is fit to fulfill her NATO duties under these circumstances? Since administration requests have always been cut by Congress, do you intend to increase aid to Turkey?
The President. The United States is committed to help Turkey modernize its armed forces as quickly as possible. We are doing our best to help ensure that a key ally has a strong defense.
In order to do this, we have more than tripled military assistance to Turkey since 1980. Last year Congress approved $700 million in military assistance. This year, recognizing the continuing need, I have requested Congress to approve nearly $800 million in military assistance, of which over 73 percent is either grant or on concessional terms.
Conflict in Cyprus
Q. What is your evaluation of Greek and Turkish attitudes during the last summit on Cyprus?
The President. As we said in January, the United States regrets the failure of the summit meeting between the leaders of the two Cypriot communities. We believe, however, that the pursuit of a negotiated political solution in Cyprus must continue and that the Cypriot parties themselves hold the key to their own future. We continue to support the Secretary-General's role under his Security Council mandate and for our part have encouraged all parties to this dispute to be flexible and forthcoming.
Q. Are you optimistic about a peaceful solution?
The President. As I said, we are still hopeful the Cypriot parties can find the will to move forward, under the guidance of the Secretary-General, to find a peaceful and lasting solution to the Cyprus question.
U.S. Military Bases in Greece
0. Greek Prime Minister Papandreou has been hostile to NATO. Do you think it is secure to keep U.S. bases in Greece under the circumstances, or do you intend to move them to Turkey?
The President. The United States maintains its longstanding security relationship with Greece within the NATO partnership. We believe that U.S. bases in Greece are of value to Greece, the U.S., and NATO. That is why we negotiated a bilateral defense and economic cooperation agreement, and we continue to maintain this view.
Q. Turkey, like the U.S., faces constant international terrorist attacks. Armenian terrorist groups claim responsibility for Turkish victims. However, Congress is about to vote on an Armenian resolution-referring to the so-called genocide in 1915. Do you approve congressional action on such a sensitive issue?
The President. I know this is a deeply emotional issue, and I sympathize with all those who suffered during the tragic events of 1915. I also profoundly regret that Turks and Armenians have so far not been able to resolve their differences. Nevertheless, there is no question regarding my opposition to terrorism. On those grounds alone, my administration opposes congressional action on the kind of resolution to which you refer. We are concerned such resolutions might inadvertently encourage or reward terrorist attacks on Turks and Turkish-Americans. We also oppose them because they could harm relations with an important ally.
I hope the Turkish people understand that in our form of government the Executive can only seek to persuade the Congress and does not control congressional actions. Therefore, these resolutions, if adopted, would only express an opinion of the Congress. They would not and could not change my policy toward Turkey or my commitment to the fight against international terrorism.
Q. Turkey is following in the footsteps of U.S. economic policy. Liberal trade and conservative monetary policy are the basics of Turkish economic policy. Do you believe such measures should be used in developing countries? Do you think the measures are productive?
The President. Private capital working in an open market is the most effective engine of development. The success that Mr. Ozal 1 has had, so far, in reinstituting an enviable economic growth rate through his liberalization policies demonstrates that fact. The United States strongly supports Turkey's economic program and applauds the responsible and successful manner in which Turkey has addressed its international financial obligations.
1 Prime Minister Turgut Ozal of Turkey.
Q. Do you see Turkey as an economic as well as strategic ally of the U.S.?
The President. A healthy, growing Turkish economy is in the best interests of Turkey and the United States, and we are encouraging the development of a strong, competitive Turkish economy. In the world of trade, countries are at the same time partners and competitors. We look forward to competing with Turkish goods and services in the world marketplace and anticipate expanding our markets in Turkey as well.
Q. Since 1948 the Middle East has not been at peace. What are your plans to bring peace to the region? Would you support an international conference like that most Arab nations favor?
The President. The achievement of a just and lasting peace between Israel and all its neighbors is a major goal of the United States. We are working with the parties to achieve, as a next step, a broadening of negotiations through direct talks between Israel and Jordan with Palestinian representatives. The United States firmly believes that the only practical path to peace in the Middle East lies in direct negotiations based upon United Nations Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338.
An international conference would inevitably produce extremist rhetoric and confrontation rather than serious and productive negotiation. This would not bring closer the peaceful settlement we seek.
In my September 1, 1982, Middle East peace initiative, which is firmly based on Resolutions 242 and 338 and the Camp David framework, I outlined positions which the United States would support in negotiations. These positions are aimed at the achievement of an equitable settlement that would reconcile Israel's legitimate security interests and the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people. Acceptance of our proposals by other parties is not a precondition for negotiations. We would expect other parties to put forward their positions.
Recent developments have spurred movement toward negotiations. This momentum must be maintained and built upon. The United States will be active in that effort.
U.S.-Soviet Relations and the Nuclear and Space Arms Negotiations
Q. How do you see future U.S.-Soviet relations? Are you optimistic about the Geneva talks?
The President. It is regrettable that U.S. relations with the U.S.S.R. have been difficult in recent years, but we must face the fact that events such as the brutal Soviet war against the Afghan people, the continuing Soviet military buildup far beyond legitimate defense needs, and the deteriorating human rights situation in the U.S.S.R. complicate the task of developing more satisfactory relations.
Although issues are complex, I am hopeful that we are at a point where we and the Soviets can make progress on the major issues. My administration will take every opportunity to broaden our dialog with the U.S.S.R. and work for mutually beneficial solutions to our problems. No one can predict what the future might hold, but I can assure you that Mr. Gorbachev and his colleagues in the Soviet leadership will find America to be a willing partner in the search for true peace. We hope that the Soviet Union is equally committed.
I have no higher priority than negotiating the reduction and, eventually, the complete elimination of nuclear weapons, and I am pleased that new arms control negotiations are underway in Geneva. The issues are many and complex, and it would be unrealistic to expect quick or easy progress. Nevertheless, I am optimistic that agreement can be reached if the Soviets join us in a serious and constructive approach to the talks.
Strategic Defense Initiative
Q. Star Wars is the most controversial subject of our time. Is this just a project or a bargaining tool?
The President. The Strategic Defense Initiative is not an arms development program. SDI is a research effort and, as such, cannot be a bargaining tool. Its purpose is to explore the potential of newly emerging technologies to see whether we can find an effective defense against ballistic missiles, thereby strengthening deterrence and reducing the risk of war. The focus of the research is on nonnuclear technologies.
The 1972 antiballistic missile treaty permits research into ballistic missile defensive technologies, and both we and the Soviets recognize the impossibility of limiting research. Indeed, the Soviet Union has for many years conducted a vigorous research program in this area. In fact, over the last 20 years the Soviet Union has spent approximately as much on strategic defense as on its massive offensive programs and has engaged in activities, such as the construction of the Krasnoyarsk radar, that violate the ABM treaty.
We believe it is essential that we examine the feasibility of defensive technologies which, if the research bears out, will increase the incentives for future radical reductions in offensive nuclear arms. In any case, it would be imprudent for us not to continue our research as a hedge against a possible Soviet breakthrough in defense technologies or a complete Soviet breakout from the ABM treaty.
Presidential Visit to Turkey
Q. During your upcoming trip to Europe, would you include Turkey in your schedule?
The President. I'm afraid there will not be sufficient time on that trip to include Turkey, and I truly regret this.
Q. Mr. President, you are as famous in Turkey as in the U.S. regarding popularity and your programs and your economic success story. You are very much liked by the Turkish public. What are your thoughts on the Turkish people? Is there any message you would like to convey to them before the historic visit of the Turkish Prime Minister?
The President. I have always thought of the Turkish people as particularly brave and steadfast—brave certainly in the military sense, as all the world knows, but brave also in terms of the determination they have shown in stabilizing and rebuilding their economy. In this, too, they are an outstanding example to the rest of the world. It is important that Turks explain to the American people and the world their significant progress toward greater democracy, freedom, and economic growth and the additional goals they have set for themselves.
The relationship between Turkey and the United States has grown during my administration , and I look forward to seeing that relationship further broadened and strengthened in the coming years. I particularly look forward to meeting your Prime Minister, about whom I have heard so much and with whom I share so many goals and opinions.
Note: The questions and answers were released by the Office of the Press Secretary on April 1.
Ronald Reagan, Written Responses to Questions Submitted by Hurriyet of Turkey Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/259601